Armenia’s tax authorities have come down hard on 78 year-old pensioner Raya Prazyan.
For the past two months they’ve been withholding 10,000 AMD of her 31,000 monthly pension as administrative penalties.
Mrs. Prazyan resides in the Kakhagn village in Gegharkouniq Province. We met her in the village’s only store, where she spends most of her day.
The store serves as her only place to socialize since she has no relatives or close friends in the village.
Mrs. Prazyan told us that she us used to own a small stall by the school and sold candy and cakes to the kids. She added that up until 2006, when the store was ransacked and robbed, she would pay all her taxes on time.
After the robbery, she simply stopped running the small stall. No one told her that she was required to file a notice to that effect with the tax authorities.
Earlier this year, Mrs. Prazyan received a notice from the Vardenis tax office stating that they were fining her 500,000 AMD on an installment basis. They would be withholding 10,000 every month until the total about was paid.
"What will I eat after they hold 1/3 of my pension. That works out to less than 1,000 a month. Do I have to go out and collect wood to live," asked an emotional Mrs. Prazyan.
The senior citizen lives alone. Her only child, a daughter, lives in Russia. There is no one to assist Mrs. Prazyan who has limited mobility due to the swelling in her feet and ankles.
While the state has seen fit to cut the senior’s pension by 1/3, it has yet to make good on its obligation to repair the roof of Mrs. Prazyan’s house damaged in a 2008 storm. The house is uninhabitable and the woman now lives in house that a neighbor has temporarily placed at her disposal.
Neighbors say that they have applied to all appropriate government agencies to no avail. No one from the government has even inquired as to her housing situation.
We spoke with village Mayor Gagik Petrosyan. He could offer little in the way of details regarding Mrs. Prazyan’s current dilemma.
When we asked if the village municipality was assisting the woman in her time of need, Petrosyan replied that the village was in no financial condition to help.
"We cannot help her. The municipality is in need of assistance itself. We can’t even pay back wages. Mrs. Prazyan has every right to protest. She’s a pensioner in a tight squeeze," commented Mayor Petrosyan.